Brazilian football fans put aside fierce, century-old rivalry to protest ‘homophobic, racist’ president Jair Bolsonaro

jair bolsonaro homophobic

Brazilian football fans from rival teams are joining together to protest against their “homophobic, racist” president Jair Bolsonaro.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s “proudly” homophobic president, has been globally criticised for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, consistently playing down the virus despite recently contracting it himself. 

Fears have been growing that Bolsonaro will soon exert more control over the country’s Supreme Court, one of few forces in the country able to progress civil – including LGBT – rights, but now an unlikely alliance of football fanatics is fighting back.

According to Deutsche Welle, Rogerio Bassetto, who has been a fan of one of Brazil’s most famous football teams, Corinthians, for 40 years, has been leading the protests.

He perfectly explained what it took for fanatical football fans, known as ultras, of rival teams to come together: “Our president is a homophobic racist and we all have to stand up to this enemy of humanity!”

Bassetto, a sociologist and supporter of the Brazilian Workers’ Party (PT), has helped to bring together Corinthians fans with those of their arch-rivals Palmeiras, which stretches back to the early 1900s, as well as Sao Paulo and Santos ultras.

He said: “I just called up the fans who I thought would have the same political views as me… An entire country is being held hostage by the Bolsonaro movement.

“Today’s rulers are hate and polarisation. But people voted for him, so they have to deal with the consequences.

“It will take a long time for us to recover from the damage Bolsonaro has done.”

Football fans march with banners reading “Grieve for Brazil” and “Out Bolsonaro”. (Facebook/Rogerio Bassetto)

Corinthians fans have long been involved in political activism, and the “Gaviões da Fiel”, which means Hawks of the Faithful, is a group of ultras formed 50 years ago to resist Brazil’s military dictatorship.

As well as protesting, the Gaviões da Fiel have been handing out aid packages to those in the favelas who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Bassetto said: “It’s our historic legacy. Corinthians is a team of the people and we are not normal fans. We are different.

“We are non-conformists and we cannot accept any injustice.”

He promised: “We will have a new banner each week. And we will bring it to a place where everyone in Sao Paulo can see it.”